The new war film, Dunkirk, which critics say officially makes Christopher Nolan one of America's great directors.

Promising to be more of a ruminating drama than a war film, there still have to a be a lot of guns, squibs, and explosions to tell the story of the evacuation of more than 400,000 Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France while they are surrounded and being attacked by the German army in World War II.

The trailers so far have been sparse with only a few lingering shots, but we see a number of British soldiers with Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III bolt action rifles chambered in .303 British. The Lee-Enfield family of rifles were the standard infantry-issued rifle for British troops from the 19th century all the way to 1957.

A British soldier firing at a plane with a Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III bolt action rifle.
A British soldier firing at a plane with a Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III bolt action rifle.web photo

We also see some French troops with MAS-36 bolt action rifles chambered in 7.5x54mm French.

The carbine-style rifle with a two-piece stock was first adopted in 1936 by France and saw service long past WWII. They were in short supply during the war, but mass production caught up after the war was over and they were widely used in the First Indochina War and subsequent engagements. About 1.1 million of them were manufactured when the production lines were shut down in 1952.

The gun uses a peep sight like the M1917 Enfield and a five-round box magazine like the German Gewehr 98. It had a reputation for being an “ugly, roughly made, but immensely strong and reliable” service rifle.

MAS-36 bolt action rifles chambered in 7.5x54mm French
The MAS-36 bolt action rifles chambered in 7.5x54mm French.photo from wikipedia

We also see a British Bren Mk1 .303 caliber machine gun fitted with an anti-aircraft tripod and sights firing at a German plane as it comes in on one of many strafing runs.

And while a makeshift navy of boats worked tirelessly to evacuate the troops on the ground, fighters in the air did everything they could to ward off the German planes killing the trapped men below.

A British Bren Mk1 .303 caliber machine gun being fired at a German fighter.
A British Bren Mk1 .303 caliber machine gun being fired at a German fighter.web photo

Tom Hardy plays a French pilot chasing German planes in his fighter. Most French fighter planes in WWII were outfitted with the MAC-1934 machine gun, which was an aircraft version of the Reibel machine gun.

The gun was first manufactured in 1934 and worked by gas operation and was fed from drum magazines. One variant, the turret model, had a 100-round replaceable magazine that was used in flexible mountings and the other type was made for fixed mountings on plane wings and fed from a 300- or 500-round drum.

A belt-fed variant was introduced in 1939 and designated as the MAC 1934 M39. It equipped French aircraft until the late 1940s and proved to be a bit too light for aerial combat during the war.

Pilots discovered that it tended to freeze up at altitudes above 20,000 feet and heaters were added on the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406.

Dunkirk hits theaters on July 21.

The MAC 1934 M39 machine gun armed French planes until the late 1940s.
The MAC 1934 M39 machine gun armed French planes until the late 1940s.web photos